WELCOME AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Let me remind you quickly of our protocols for everyone’s safety.
· Attendance was taken by Ushers as you entered.
· masks are required by those not vaccinated as well as social distancing
· Offerings may be placed in the plate by the doors.
· Please write your prayer request on the Yellow cards. An usher will pick them up during the 1st hymn.
· Please join us after service for fellowship in Calvin Hall
Gary Iverson, Bob Bock, Joan Boyd, Wanda Hirl, Marilyn Neymeyer, Joan Pinkston, Maxine Wagner, Annette Conzett, Jo Lefleur, Judy Welcher, Dr Dyke, Harlan Marx, Lois Seger, Jon Ryner, Abagail Niles, Helanah Niles, Werner & Kelly Families, Avis Severson (Kolleen’s Mom), Ukraine, Arlene Pawlik, Angela and Tristan, Karla Singer (Rich Lewis Niece), Bonnie Pillers, Deb Weller, Barbara Russell and Family, Manon Family, and Linda Wenzel.
*Call to worship adapted from Psalm 77
As we gather to worship, we may also feel like the psalmist who wrote:
“I cry aloud to God, that God may hear me…
In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord.
Has God’s steadfast love ceased forever? Are God’s promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious?”
Let us call to mind the deeds of the Lord. Let us remember God’s wonders…
Let us meditate on all God’s mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy. What god is so great as our God?
You are the God who works wonders; you have displayed your might among the people. With your strong arm you have redeemed your people.
Let us call to mind the deeds of the Lord.
We will remember your wonders.
*HYMN “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” #276
Call to Confession
In this season after Pentecost, we read this from Galatians 5:13-16:
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters, only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. Through love become slaves to one another…. Live by the Spirit I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh.We know God knows our every thought and deed. So. let us also look within, and confess our sins before God.
Prayer of Confession
Gracious God, you offer us so much: a purpose that affects eternity, the Spirit who fills and empowers us, and the salvation of our souls. Forgive us when we choose to withhold love from others, when we choose not to forgive, when we look back with envy and ahead with fear. Help us to trust you in the good and bad times, in the times of abundance and in the times of scarcity. Help us to know that you have not left us as orphans, but have to come us to continue to use us in your kingdom purposes. Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen.
Words of Assurance
In Christ we are not only forgiven, we are set free from sin’s power over us. We now live by the Spirit. Let us also walk in the power and guidance of God’s Spirit, and bear the fruit of the Spirit as Christ did.
PASSING THE PEACE (facing those across the aisle from you)
Left: May the peace of Christ be with you.
Right: And also with you. May the peace of Christ be with you.
Left: And also with you.
2 Kings 2:1-2
2 When the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven in a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2 Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to Bethel. “But Elisha said, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel.
2 Kings 2:6-15
6 Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” And he replied, “As surely as the Lord lives and as you live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them walked on. 7 Fifty men from the company of the prophets went and stood at a distance, facing the place where Elijah and Elisha had stopped at the Jordan. 8 Elijah took his cloak, rolled it up and struck the water with it. The water divided to the right and to the left, and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. 9 When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied.10 “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise, it will not.” 11 As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. 12 Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two.13 Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. 14 He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. “Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?” he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. 15 The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, “The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.” And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him
51 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; 53 but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. 54 When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them[a]?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 Then he and his disciples went to another village. 57 As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.”58 Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” 59 He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”61 Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
SERMON ““When the Glory Days Seem Over”
One man said to his friend: "Say, you look depressed. What are you thinking about'!"
"My future," was the quick answer.
"What makes it look so hopeless?"
Well, there could be two reasons for that 1) the person's past. Was not so great and he or she sees no hope that anything will change. Or, 2) the person's past was so glorious that he or she doubts it will ever be that great again! Both perspectives can feel hopeless!
These are the Days of Elijah... so goes the Christian song. Our Old Testament text is the story where Elijah is taken up and Elisha is standing on a riverbank, looking up to an empty sky, and down at Elijah's cloak. Elijah did amazing things in his life. How will Elisha ever hope to fill his shoes? The people cheer, but also wonder, will Elisha be as great as Elijah? Are Elijah's days of glory in Israel over?
For most of us it may not be past glory that we hang onto, but familiarity and comfort. People put their trust in Jesus, and then find themselves going back to their old ways, things that worked in the past to give them a sense of security. Even though the old has past and the new has come, there is comfort in old patterns, and many Christians do not progress spiritually because they are afraid to trust God to lead them into new relationships, new ways of thinking, new ways of using what God has given them, new ways of being. In other words, they [we] prefer the past.
That is what is happening in our gospel story. People want to follow Jesus (new wav) AND stay comfortable (old wavs) A commercial bas a couple entering a dining area at an inn, where people are all snoring over their tables. It’s not a Bed & Breakfast, but a Bed OR Breakfast, and they say, "I'm glad we chose bed.”, The point is the word ''and" is often very important
In our gospel some people they want to follow Christ, and hang onto their possessions, follow Christ and keep their comfort, follow Christ and say goodbye, and cling to their families, and keep the past, and so forth. Jesus says, "Well, I have no home. Let your dead bury the dead. Plus, if you take the plow and tum back you are not fit for the kingdom of God." When something similar happens later in the gospel Jesus adds that terse three-word verse, "Remember Lot's wife." Easy to memorize, Lu. 17:32, "Remember Lot's wife." She is the woman told not to look back while fleeing from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But she turned back and became a pillar of salt. In other words, "if you follow Me," says the Lord, "There is no turning back." Hmmm, I wonder how many followers Jesus picked up that day!
Jesus himself “had set his face to go to Jerusalem," because he knew it was the time of his imminent demise, or as Luke puts it, the time for him to be taken up, that is, up to heaven. In many ways the glory days of Christ were over. The huge crowds, the sensational miracle the accolades from, masses -all that was mostly behind him. Now, in the words of the Old Testament prophecy, he had "set his face like a flint'' towards Jerusalem, towards the increasing resistance to his teachings, towards the increasing-difficulties with Roman authorities, and ultimately towards the events of Passion week and the cross. But Luke holds out the promise he would be "taken up."
No doubt, the eavesdropping disciples didn't like to hear Jesus talk like this. They had seen him walk on water, raise the sick and the dead, level the Pharisees with wisdom and authority, and now he was scaring people away? "We like the good old days better!"
Even for Jesus, glory comes and goes. Same with the church. In American history there have been times of revival, it seems every few decades. There are the Methodist revivals of the early 1800s. We remember the rise of the Billy Graham Crusades; I attended a couple of them. There was the Jesus Movement of the early 70s, while hippies and anti-war demonstrators were advocating love and anarchy, young people were turning in faith to advocate love through Jesus Christ. Currently, I think we are in between times of Christian renewal. The good old days of Christianity in this country seem gone maybe for good. You know, those days of bursting Sunday Schools and new church buildings springing up by the thousands all across the country in all the new suburbs- those days when almost. everyone went to church, or at least, had learned basic truths of the gospel.
So we might think we should try to make Christianity more appealing, easier, consumer-friendly, more accommodating to busy schedules and more politically correct. After all, we don't want to chase away any of the few followers the Lord has, do we? We are in what philosopher’s call ''post-Modernism," where the church is fighting against secularism, just as Elijah fought against King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, like Jesus faced the opposition of the Jewish elite. In our day, post-modems tell us that there really are no moral absolutes, that truth is relative, and institutions like the church are irrelevant dinosaurs. After all, faith is a matter of personal preference, the Bible IS just literature, and everyone should be able to do what is right in their own eyes "as long as they don't hurt anybody." How does the church thrive in such a world?
The same way it always has. We proclaim the love of God without compromising his truth, without lowering his standards. We trust the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of people who still need the Lord. Fa1th is personal, and communal. We trust with our whole heart, soul, mind and strength. And with other believers we become the body of Christ
Watering down the gospel and pretending commitment to Christ and his kingdom doesn't matter is not true discipleship. Looking back only to the glory days insulates us, but leaves us with rocking chair faith and an inability to reach out to those who still need Jesus. It might be safe, but it's boring!
Jesus set his face like a flint to go to Jerusalem against the advice of his closest friends. He didn't make any bones about the difficulty of following in his footsteps as people came up to join him. He simply requires that we count the cost first. He wants our whole heart soul and mind, not just space on our calendars.
Of course, the church of Christ will always need some new ways of doing things to be able to meet people where they are, not where we wish they were. It might be as simple as praise music vs. hymns, or coffee house informality vs. cathedral formality. But it’s probably much deeper. When people see our faith is real and vibrant, when people see how much we love our neighbor, then we have something to offer. With the Spirit's leading, we can employ those innovations that may touch people that maybe were not reached by our grandfather's way of doing church.
A good dose of realism is helpful, but let's not give up! We will pray. We will continue to seek the filling of the Holy Spirit. We will listen and obey and share our faith. The times have changed perhaps but people haven't, and certainly the Lord has not People are still empty inside and need Jesus, not a watered-down version, but the one who set his face towards Jerusalem, towards the cross, for our sake.
Lord, we seek to follow the words of the great Apostle Paul:
My beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Forgive us when we decide to "retire”. From serving you because we like the old days better. Refresh us, that we may be steadfast and immovable and always abounding in work for your kingdom. Our labor is not in vain. You have laid up for us the crown of life. May we rejoice to see the fruit of our labors in the lives you have allowed us to touch U:it your grace. May we continue to count the cost and remain faithful to your calling. We love you more than life itself, dear Lord May our love and faith be contagious in this ever-changing world. Amen.
*HYMN “God of Our Life” #275
PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.
Dedication of the Offering
Lord, as you have blessed us richly in so many ways, please accept these offerings an act of worship. May our offerings help shift our focus from our own needs, and be used to help fulfill your purposes in our community and in the world. Amen.
*AFFIRMATION Apostle’s Creed (Ecumenical) p. 14
I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended into hell.
On the third day He rose again.
He ascended into heaven
He is seated at the right hand of the Father,
And He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting.
Hymn “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past”
* Sections of the service preceded with * are times to stand if you are able to do so.
Bold text is to be read together aloud as a congregation.
Some of today’s liturgy came from the Presbyterian Book of Common Worship